Sweet are the uses of sour garcinia

Sweet are the uses of sour garcinia

FLAVOUR OF MALNAD All families of kokum (mangosteen, uppage etc) can be grown as an intercrop in a ten-year-old coconut plantation.

Garcinia indica is the botanical name of kokum and it belongs to the family clusiaceae. All families of kokum (mangosteen, uppage etc) can be grown as an intercrop in a ten-year-old coconut plantation.

No special efforts need to be put in to irrigate kokum, when used as an intercrop. The kokum tree flowers in January and yields fruit in May. The fruit, when ripened, changes from green to dark blood red colour.

Varieties and variants

According to a recent study, there are more than 200 variants of kokum world over. Thirty variants are being grown in various parts of India – West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Maharashtra, coastal and Malnad parts of Karnataka, Goa and Ooty in Tamil Nadu. Garcinia indica, garcinia gummi-gutta, garcinia mangostana, garcinia spicata are the four species of kokum found in the forests of Western Ghats.

Two varieties of kokum are more in use and are called red murugalu and white murugalu in local parlance.

While the red variety is common, the white one is rare. It is found more in Sirsi and Ankola of Uttara Kannada district.

Marketing and value addition

Kokum finds a place in the list of spices of the Spice Board. The peel of kokum is exported to foreign nations. “Kokum yields natural juice. Even commercial vendors sell it without adding any chemical preservatives,” says Vishwaprasad of Puttur who has been marketing the juice for over two decades. Venkatesh, hailing from Bengali in Sirsi taluk, has been growing white murugalu for the past ten years. Venkatesh prepares jams, pickles and juice from the fruit and the peel. He also prepares ghee from the seeds.

The pickles and jams are in great demand, Venkatesh points out, and adds that the Hopcoms, Kadamba and forest produce outlets in Sirsi are the principal avenues for marketing. He said that he sells 600 to 1,000 bottles in a season and excluding his expenses, he earns an income of Rs 25,000.

The pharmaceutical value of kokum lies in its hydroxy citric acid. According to Central Food Technology Research Centre of India, Mysore, a fresh kokum fruit contains 16.8 pc of hydroxy citric acid. In spite of its many applications, kokum is yet to get an identity as a farm produce.

Limited to the Western Ghats, the plant has world-wide demand. Attempts should be made to bring it to the ambit of farm produce.

The Western Ghats Kokum Foundation has been doing remarkable work in this connection.

It has organised two national-level workshops on kokum. It is crucial that it gains identity as a farm produce rather than forest produce, and more farmers take to its cultivation to reap greater benefits.

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